The story I am about to share with you is a very PERSONAL one. I’m comfortable with crying in front of the camera, however it is very difficult to cry … and talk at the same time.
So, if I get choked up, I will pause, take a few deep breaths, and be right back, probably before you even notice I have gone.
GREGORY, my husband of over 41 years, was diagnosed with DEMENTIA, most likely ALZHEIMER’S, in the 29th year of our relationship. He was 55 years old. Together, we were on the Dementia Journey for 12 years.
Let me say that I am NOT here today as an EXPERT in the field of Dementia and Alzheimer’s … but rather as someone who has EXPERIENCED it … DIRECTLY, INTENSELY.
Let me tell you a little about me …
I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts, an Master’s Degree in Education, and an Advanced Certificate in Education Administration and Supervision.
I am an educator, have worked with children in regular education as well as children with special needs.
I was an administrator for a Talented and Gifted Education Program, taught Junior High Spanish.
I have taught a number of university level education courses and seminars.
I have been retired for 25+ years but have been more than active as an educator, speaker, writer, poet, blogger, actor, opera supernumerary, children’s museum curator, flea circus ringmaster, and Dementia /Alzheimer’s caregiver partner.
GREGORY earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Wesleyan University in Connecticut & received his Master’s Degree from Harvard University in Architecture, with Phi Beta Kappa recognition.
He ran his own high end architecture and interior design firm and served as architect of record for renovations at the Baha’i National Shrine in a suburb of Chicago, Wilmette, Il.
Gregory was a writer, an artist, was well versed in music and art history, was a concert level pianist, spoke French, and won many awards for his architecture and interior design skills.
While helping Gregory run his high end architecture and interior design business, I noticed that he was beginning to have unusual difficulties with managing his time, completing his projects, relating to clients, making decisions, and just many little things that were “not like him.”
I set up several doctors appointments, with psychologists, medical doctors, and neurological specialists to check out what might be happening.
Actually, we were relieved on receiving the diagnosis of Dementia, most likely Alzheimer’s, because now we had an idea of what we had been experiencing & and we could prepare for the future
… although at the time we did not really understand the nature of the roller coaster ride we would be on until his death.
Gregory was NOT a VICTIM of Alzheimer’s ... but rather a HERO.
Gregory did not SUFFER with DEMENTIA/ ALZHEIMER’S, but rather LIVED as WELL as possible, refusing to accept the diagnosis as a “DEATH SENTENCE.”
I NEVER referred to the diagnosis as HIS but always OUR diagnosis.
GETTING ONE’S LIFE IN ORDER
I made sure that our legal and financial matters were in order. A trust was set up which would take care of Gregory in the event I was unable to do so.
We both had living wills, and powers of attorney over health and finances.
There were many additional issues, permissions, and protections to put in place because of our being a same sex, unmar